Though Green Book is getting a lot of positive attention from the Golden Globes, Mahershala Ali has apologized to the family of his character.
The actor, who is nominated for his role, was affected by the historical inaccuracies pointed out by Shirley’s brother Maurice and nephew Edwin. The film, named after the book that helped African-American travelers know where they would be served in the 1960s Jim Crow South, follows the unlikely friendship story between pianist Shirley (played by Ali) and his white driver, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.
“My brother never considered Tony to be his ‘friend.’” Maurice told NPR’s 1A Movie Club. “He was an employee, his chauffeur (who resented wearing a uniform and cap). This is why context and nuance are so important. The fact that a successful, well-to-do Black artist would employ domestics that did not look like him, should not be lost in translation.”
“I got a call from Mahershala Ali, a very, very respectful phone call, from him personally. He called me and my Uncle Maurice in which he apologized profusely if there had been any offense,” Edwin continued. “What he said was, ‘If I have offended you, I am so, so terribly sorry. I did the best I could with the material I had. I was not aware that there were close relatives with whom I could have consulted to add some nuance to the character.’”
Listen to the full interview below.